Summer Crabapple Delight

Dolgo Crabapples

We have grown crabapples for many years in the front yard without ever making good use of the fruit.  Of course the abundant white flowers in the springtime are delightful and the pretty summertime fruit have always been appreciated but we never harvested them for eating.  Until now that is.  Our youngest son was inspired by the sprightly taste of the fruit.  He picked a bunch of them and made a couple of galettes, one with the crabapples and one with blueberries, apricots, and peaches.  Both were quite good, but the crabapple one was really special.  Think of the best rhubarb pie you’ve ever tasted.

Galettes in prep

Two Galettes

This was so good, that he went out this week and picked another batch of the crabapples.

Dolgo Crabapples

The remarkable thing about these little crabapples is that a very high percentage are without blemish or insect damage and this is without any spraying at all.  This is quite a contrast with our normal apple trees.

This is a very active time outdoors right now.  I thought I would also share another of the interesting spiders that we have run across.

Phidippus johnsoni jumping spider.

I always find the jumping spiders have considerable personality.

And another interesting tidbit is the arrival of the rain lilies.

Pink Rain Lily (Habranthus robustus)

We have grown these very hardy rain lilies for many years and they seem early this year but we had some strong rains and up they came.  I had also moved one of the Zephyranthes from the greenhouse last year and seems to be doing fine, though it is supposed to be a zone 8 plant.

Zephyranthes rosea

I would also note in passing that this is a good time to be gathering seeds for the various seed exchanges.  Some are quite easy to find like the Zephyranthes.

Zephyranthes seeds

Lastly I’ll close this post with one of the prettiest lilies I’ve come across (unnamed at the moment).

Unnamed Pink Lily

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day June 2017

Anemone multifida ‘Rubra’

I will lead off this very late Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day post with a lovely little anemone that came from the NARGS seed exchange three years ago.  It’s not spreading but seems to be holding its own in the Monument bed.

I am always surprised that two of Arisaemas hold off until June.  Their colleagues begin back in April.  But just when you think that winter has finished them off, the Arisaema candidissimum and Arisaema fargesii come popping up through the ground.

Arisaema candidissimum

Arisaema fargesii

It is also surprising to see the Freesia laxa return every year.

Freesia laxa

According to the books this little corm is not viable in our climate.  Not only has it returned but it’s jumped the tracks and moved to another garden bed as well.

I have it growing now next to the reliable Brodiaea ‘Queen Fabiola’.

Brodiaea Queen Fabiola

That’s a white Callirhoe in the front of the image.

Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba ‘Logan Calhoun’

And they all mix together like this.

Star flowers, wine cups and Fressia.

In the same garden bed we have a bright yellow Butterfly Weed.

Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow’

This is very popular with all the butterflies and bees.  For example this swallowtail was cruising around the yard.

Zebra Swallowtail

Nearby we find a lovely clematis growing up a trellis.

Clematis ‘Krakowiak’

Also by the garage there is a marvelous foxtail lily that came from Far Reaches.

Eremurus stenophyllus

Back in the monument bed there is the first of the Asiatic lillies coming out.

Asiatic Lily ‘Netty’s Pride’

And a chinese ground orchid that is a little taller than our other ground orchids.

Bletilla ‘Brigantes’

Back in the Camellia bed, emerging through the rapidly growing Japanese Anemones is a very pretty Astrantia.

Astrantia ‘Sunningdale variegated’

If we go back to the Alpine bed, as I do several times a day, a very nice dwarf plant in the Campanulaceae is just finishing.  I cannot read the label but I suspect it’s an Edraianthus.

Edraianthus sp?

Just finished now is also another pasque flower.

Pulsatilla campanella

Also in the alpine bed is a new gentian that we found at Oliver Nursery this spring.

Gentiana cachemirica

In the greenhouse there are a few picture-worthy objects as well.

Ornithogalum fimbrimarginatum

This is a two-foot tall Ornithogalum that came from the PBS bulb exchange.

Another PBS acquisition is this Pine Woods Lily.

Alophia drummondi (Pine Woods Lily)

I almost forgot to mention the Stewartia.  It has been a consistent flowering tree for June 15th.  This year it is loaded with flowers but only one is actually open now.

Stewartia japonica

However, life is not flowers alone.  It is the peak time for our berries, especially the blueberries.

Blueberries at their peak

It’s a joy picking blueberries.  We brought in gallons last night.  I’m convinced the only reason we can do so is that just behind the garden we have a very large mulberry tree and an equally large Bird Cherry that provide even greater interest for the birds.

Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)

Speaking of birds I’ve seen some really nice ones on my early morning bird watching including this Baltimore Oriole yesterday.

Baltimore Oriole eating cherries

Well, that’s a glimpse of our garden right now.  What’s happening in your garden?

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2016



It has been a generally hot and dry (read depressing) summer for our garden).  In early August we awoke to find that we had drawn down the well with watering and so had to forego our normal watering plan.  So my looks around the garden prior to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day were fewer than they might otherwise have been.  We did still water Beth’s new raised bed and the Nasturtiums and Calendulas have responded by blooming all summer long and into the Fall.



Many of the other flowers in bloom are a testament to how well some species can survive in adversity.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Venturing out onto our ultra-dry hillside which never gets watered at all anymore, I found several champions of the survival school.



Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Notice the spider on the Lemon Queen and it’s very adaptive coloration.

Spider on Lemon Queen

Spider on Lemon Queen

The butterflies are also very attracted to Lemon Queen.

butterfly on Lemon Queen

butterfly on Lemon Queen

I also saw a lovely Monarch Butterfly on the Tithonia in the vegetable garden.

Monarch on Tithonia

Monarch on Tithonia

One very noteworthy Fall-blooming flower is the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.  I’m becoming more of a fan every year and it’s a good thing because it keeps spreading of its own volition.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Another fall bloomer was a bit of a surprise.  This Sweet Autumn Clematis was something I pulled out three years ago and I was surprised to see it return in two separate places this year.

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

It’s a lovely flower but can get too aggressive if left to its own devices.  I will probably try to transplant it to the woods.

In the alpine beds I have two erodiums that are returning to bloom right now.

Erodium chrysantha

Erodium chrysantha



In the greenhouse I have just finished restarting all the oxalis.  At the same time the Bulbine has come back into flower.

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbine frutescens

And one of the cyclamens has taken on a very distinctive flowering by simply spilling over the edge of the pot with a great many flowers and no leaves at all.

Cyclamen graecum

Cyclamen graecum

Lastly just to note that man (or woman) does not live by flowers alone.  The raspberries are joining the apples as delectable fruits to be harvested this month.

raspberries ready for harvest again

raspberries ready for harvest again

C&O Canal at Noland’s Ferry

Trail along the C&O canal

Trail along the C&O canal

We’ve had a wonderful extended Autumn with many clear sunny days.  On one of them last week we took a morning walk along the C&O canal.  This national park is only 15-20 minutes from our house.  The overall park is essentially a biking-hiking-running trail that extends 185 miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD.  Noland’s Ferry is at the 45 mile point along the trail and is a broad leaf-strewn walkway in this season.  There are other parts of Frederick County that are lit up with color this time of year, but along the canal it’s mostly greens turning to yellow.  Nonetheless one of the joys of walking is noticing that which is not visible from car or bike.  We walked about 2 miles down the trail towards Washington and then returned, moving at a pace that encouraged observation.  Even at that pace we noticed things on the return part of the trail that we had missed on the outgoing trip.

Some of the most striking elements were fungi.  The Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus looks like a waterfall frozen in time.

Bear's Head Tooth Fungus (Hericium americanum)

Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus (Hericium americanum)

The Jelly Ear Mushroom is said to be good to eat, but we limit ourselves to puffballs (which we have eaten many times).

Jelly Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae)

Jelly Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae)

And then there was this very phallic white mushroom which I’ve not been able to identify.

Pure White Mushroom

Pure White Mushroom

Along the trail was a very tiny snake, about the size of a worm.  It seems likely this this is an Eastern Smooth Earthsnake.  They do have babies in the fall but they are not very big in any case.  It eats earthworms, slugs, snails, and soft-bodied insects.  On balance that’s the kind of diet I can  appreciate.

Eastern Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae )

Eastern Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae )

There were two interesting fruiting plants that we noticed.  Spicebush is a smallish native shrubby tree that is found in wooded lowlands.  It has plants of both the male and female persuasion so it will be interesting to return in spring to see if we can identify them.

Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin)

Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin)

And the Eastern Wahoo is another small native tree that has what seem like packages of pink candy hanging from its branches.

Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

The leaves had not yet turned but like its relative, the Euonymus alatus, the Eastern Wahoo should have strongly colored red leaves.

At one point we looked up and noticed a tree with remarkable orange foliage.  At first I thought sugar maple, but that is not common with us at all.  When I got home and did a little research, it was pretty clear to me that what we saw was Black Maple.  This is a close cousin to the Sugar Maple and as many of the same positive attributes.  It would be worth trying to propagate in our forest.

Black Maple (Acer nigrum)

Black Maple (Acer nigrum)

Black Maple leaf (note the typical 3 lobes)

Black Maple leaf (note the typical 3 lobes)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2015

Japanese Anemone 'Whirwind'

Japanese Anemone ‘Whirwind’

It is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and I am late in posting once again.  I found myself on the road once more but these are photos from the garden reflecting the state of affairs before I left. One of the standout flowers for this time of year is the lovely double flowered Japanese anemone pictured above.  It is both floriferous and singularly beautiful over a long period in the fall.

Another set of flowers that can be counted on for September are the Toad Lilies.

Tricyrtis 'Tojen'

Tricyrtis ‘Tojen’

There are several in the yard now but they are all characterized by orchid like blossoms and delightful green foliage with rampant growth.

One of our favorite dahlias for use in the perennial gardens is Bishop of Llandalf.

Bishop of Llandalf

Bishop of Llandalf

It’s dark foliage contrasts nicely with the other plants and the red flowers are outstanding.

We have several patches of Garlic Chives that are expanding.

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

They are especially nice when many other perennial flowers have faded.

In the annual cutting bed the Tithonia continue to dominate.



They are constantly visited by butterflies and bees.

Butterfly on Tithonia

Butterfly on Tithonia

In the wildflower patch in the lawn we have some Colchicum established.

Colchicum 'Byzantium'

Colchicum ‘Byzantium’

One of the nice aspects of species peonies is the rather striking seed pods they can have in the fall.

Peony Seeds

Peony Seeds

This one is Paonia obovata I believe.  The red seeds are not viable but the black ones could easily be harvested.

It’s also worth noting that this year promises a very nice apple crop, probably more than we can eat….

Mutsu Apples

Mutsu Apples

The Exquisite Spuria Iris

Spuria Iris 'Hocka Hoona'

Last year, inspired by several visits to Chanticleer, I decided to give Spuria Iris a try.  The Spurias are the result of hybridizing a number of species, including Iris spuria, mostly found around the Mediterranean region.  They are strikingly tall (3-4′) with flowers that look a bit like Dutch Iris on steroids and they have graceful foliage that looks much nicer in a garden bed than the bearded types.  They also flower after the bearded types thereby extending the iris season.  They eventually form a fair sized clump which offers the opportunity to bring them inside where they make good cut flowers.  An excellent background and description on the Spurias can be found at

For someone who has grown bearded Iris for years the tubers were not impressive when they arrived last September.  There was barely a patch of green showing on each.  The website for the Spuria Iris society says not to expect flowers the first year after transplanting (they don’t like to be moved).  But two of ours did bloom and we are very glad we made room for the Spurias.

Spuria Iris 'Cinnebar Red'

In fact, I think we will be ordering more…

Another new flower for us is Astrantia.

Astrantia 'Sunningdale variegated'

I ordered Astrantia after reading an enthusiastic post on Garden Shoots and I am not disappointed.  An interesting flower, in this case variegated, that plays well with the other plants in our Camellia garden.

We are otherwise looking at the lilies budding up like mad and in some cases already overflowing with flowers.  Especially the Blackout lilies that have dozens of blooms.

Blackout Lilies in quantity

There is a also a push for yellow flowers in other parts of the garden.  The St. John’s Wort is putting on an impressive show now that we have given it some sunlight.

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

The Troillus ‘Golden Queen’ is ruling over a portion of the side yard.

Trollius chinensis ‘Golden Queen’

And finally a new one for us is the Horned Poppy with bright yellow flowers against gray-green foliage.

Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum)

However, all is not just flowers on our hilly kingdom.  We have had a record crop of strawberries where the plants are so thick as to exclude most of the weeds.  We just had a wonderful memorial day weekend where we cooked up the rhubarb and strawberries into a luscious cobbler.

Strawberry & Rhubarb ingredients

Strawberry & Rhubarb cobbler

More strawberries and rhubarb have been planted for next year.  Can’t have too much of a really good thing…

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for Sept 2011

Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I last posted.  I could say that we’ve been on vacation (multiple times) and otherwise traveling (multiple times), that there have been earthquakes, tropical storms, droughts, and deluges, and that the garden has required tending — and all would be true.  Nonetheless, suffice it to say that there were numerous posts that never got to the typed version but only danced around in my head.  If I stand back and take stock now I am grateful that anything has made it through the gardening year that we’ve had.  After terrible lack of rain in the heat of the summer we got 6.5 inches of rain in the first 8 days of September (the usual average for the month is 3.5 inches).  Think of wet sponge as you walk about the back yard.

One flower that is remarkable for its presence at the moment is the Sweet Autumn Clematis.  It has taken advantage of the caterpillars that decimated the White Double-flowering Cherries this spring and has used the branches as a platform for the most amazing show of white fragrant flowers.

Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) closer up

I’m torn between wanting to celebrate this gaudy show and a desire to try for one last save of the cherries (though probably a lost hope at this point).

Elsewhere in the yard the Japanese Anemone ‘September Charm’ is reliably  coming into bloom.

Japanese anemone 'September Charm'

And the Alstroemeria in the front bed have continued to bloom off and on since springtime.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

Also in the front yard is a combination of small dahlias with the hybrid euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ that has turned out to be a good lead-in to the front porch.

Small dahlias and hybrid Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'

As you walk to the back it’s hard not to notice the pyracantha that are fruiting as though there were no tomorrow and growing ever skyward onto and above the deck.

Pyracantha 'Mojave'

Back beside the garage is my comeback plant of the year.  The Loropetalum, which looked dead in early spring (it’s only marginally hardy here), is now looking robust and even tentatively putting forth color at the end of the branches.  Credit to Les at Tidewater Gardener for introducing me to this plant.


Even further back on the hillside as we come to the plants that we expect to do a lot of self-care, the goldenrod is coming into its yellow glory.  And to think that some people in this household think it’s a weed.

Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’

So I’ll close by suggesting you visit May Dreams Gardens and check out what’s growing other gardens for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  And I’ll try to be a little more consistent in reflecting on what is happening on this hill…

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for July 2011

Abundant Lilies

It is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day again and time to share what is happening around the garden.  I think there are two themes to note in the garden right now.  The lilies have been absolutely spectacular.  The wonderful scent of the big orientals is evident both inside and outside the house at the moment.  You can’t help but notice them as you walk by.  A few years ago we had our best lilies disappear, apparently to some vole-like critter.  We tried to fight back by establishing lilies in other parts of the yard.  And now left-over pieces of those original plantings are coming back and all the other new ones are flourishing as well.  Some of the lilies would be 7 or 8 feet tall if we had managed to stake them and instead they are leaning and interwoven with other plants.  Some of my favorites are these.

Lilium oriental 'Casa Blanca' plant


Lilium Oriental Hybrid 'Casa Blanca'


Lilium Oriental-Triumph hybrid 'Scheherazade' with Joe Pye Weed


Scheherazade backlit


Lilium Oriental Hybrid 'Salmon Star'


Lilium Oriental Hybrid 'Muscadet'


The other gardening element that just shines this time of year is the front rock garden where the mix of perennials is in constant flux but seems to be especially floriferous right now.

Front Rock Garden

It’s hard not to share it from different angles

Front Rock Garden 2nd view

Or to want to point out the different elements that make up this garden like the Shasta Daisies

Shasta Daisies 'Becky'

or the Agastache ‘Tutti-Frutti’ returning for it’s 4th season.

Agastache 'Tutti-frutti'

The color of this agastache is very close to the persian cornflower that is so happy that I’ve now given it a place in the sunshine instead of the semi-shade where it persisted but hardly flowered.

Persian Cornflower 'Centaurea dealbata'

Another piece of that front bed is the yarrow surrounded by ponytail grass.

Yarrow surrounded by ponytail grass (Nassella tenuissima)

And rising in the midst of the yarrow and ponytail grass is a nice stand of alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’ which is taller than almost anything else in the bed.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

In the back camellia garden there is a nice combination of echinacea and geranium.

Echinacea purpea 'White Swan' and Geranium 'Rozanne'

This is right next to what I thought was some 3 foot high late iris.  It turns out that it is blackberry lily that has self-seeded to a very inappropriate place at the front of the bed.

Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis)

Let me close with a view of the peaches out in the orchard (life is not about flowers alone, though one can make a good argument for that proposition).

Red Haven Peaches